Of Privileges and Expectations

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a privilege is a right or benefit that is given to some people and not others while expectation is a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen.

Privilege is seen as a horrible thing right now, which it is. Expectations would lead to disappointment, which is kind of true.

In my opinion, the two goes hand in hand. Having certain privileges entails certain expectations. And I hate both with a vengeance that most people do not know but may have noticed somewhat.

I do know that having a privilege is a blessing. It’s not something that everyone has, that’s the very definition of the word. It is unfair, society tells us. It is truly unfair, for others have to toil while others already have them in the first place. It is unfair when both person almost similar in personality, in effort, in everything except certain situations have to experience different things. Having a privilege means you’re expected to be successful in whatever way you were lucky to be born with. “Oh! You’re a daughter of a businessman? You should already have knowledge of becoming one!”. A ridiculous statement but you can hear this in different conversations, some subtle, some explicit, in different ways of saying.

I am privileged, I knew that since I was a kid, and I disliked it. Why should I have this when others don’t have what I have. Do I even deserve this? I was just a kid lucky enough to be born in a well-off family. I already knew that. I worked hard and tried my best to do what I have to do and that was to be a proper student and an obedient daughter. I tried to apply everything I learned and I took every lesson to heart that most of my friends would tell me I take things too seriously but it was my way of keeping my earn, of trying to help the world and getting rid of that privilege in my own way by doing my job. I would help when asked to help because it was my way of giving back, even if I knew in reality it does something so small it amounts to nothing. I’m idealistic, not naive. At least I tried, is what I would tell myself, to keep from killing a part of myself.

I grew up and entered high school where I somehow learned in an environment without the expectation of doing well because of my name, a privilege. That was a first. No one to expect a single thing from me because I was the first one in my family to enter the high school. It was refreshing and nice. I only had to deal with the privilege of having everything I need to study and live comfortably. Sounds arrogant right? Did I ask to be born this way? Did the others who were born in a different capabilities, different area, different family, different social status, ask to be born that way? Does everybody know the struggles that everyone has to live with? It is often said that Allah (SWT) does not burden a person beyond his capacity.

College happened. The university I went to is the premiere university of the country that I live in. I foolishly thought it was a privilege for me to enter into it, not because of the university’s difficult entrance exam, not because of their excellence, but because of my family’s capability to send me to a good school and training since I was a kid. There were unspoken expectations that went with my privilege. My siblings already went there, how could I not, there must be something wrong with me if I didn’t pass. It is a state university, our education was subsidized by the government. Students and other activist would often protest, education is a right not a privilege. It is a right, but the reality is higher education became a privilege which is unfair to everyone. I tried to ignore and just continued on studying, because I knew not to waste the opportunities given to us. We were expected to give back to the country, and we will someday, and in our own different ways right now.

And then law school happened. Certain privileges and expectations became more glaringly obvious. It was only then I realized how truly blessed I was to enter my undergraduate university when I met different people, who were so amazed by the fact that I went to there. I thought nothing of going there, because it was a privilege I took for granted, and I thought it was only expected of me to go there. Not everyone can afford to go law school, not everyone has the support of the family to pursue such field much like medicine. I knew that, I knew it was selfish of me to chase after it because of my personal reasons but I still did. But not many understand or realize the expectations that came with my decision to push with it, expectations not only from myself, not only from my family but also from the school and from everyone else who knows where I stand.

My dislike turned into hatred and I tried hard not to use what others would deem as a privilege as much as possible, it bolstered my desire for independence, and I hated expectations to the point that I turned to self-sabotage and impression management to prevent anyone from expecting things. Stupid right? How will my not using my privilege be of use to anyone unless I transfer it to them. How will destroying myself help anybody. How can I even disown myself from what I was born with without destroying relationships.

I just did not want anyone saying to me, that I got where I am solely because I am privileged, even if it is true, even if it is undeniable. I did not want anyone saying to me that I did not even try, to stop what I perceived as an injustice, an inequality, because it hurts. I tried, I worked somehow, I did what I could considering whatever issues and illness I have to struggle with that is considered by others as first world problems. I’m idealistic, not naive. I tried to kill the idealistic side, it almost died, but I realized I want to keep it, I’m fighting hard to keep it in this society.

Privilege and expectations take away the sweetness and pureness of hard work, it demotivates people, makes people arrogant, makes people self-absorbed. That is why, I admire honest and hardworking people so much, who did what they have to do properly to get where they are right now.

One day, some day, the system, the society that has perpetrated the toxic inequality and injustice will go down. Nobody will have the excuse of having or not having a privilege, there will only be honest to goodness effort and hard work. No more expectations, only goals.

Until then, there’s only prayer and hard work. Ora et Labora. Because Allah is Mercy, He is also Justice, and He can do things which we cannot do, but we have to do our part.

Contrary to popular belief, I’m idealistic, not naive. Let’s make this work step by step.

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